For businesses concerned about day-to-day operations, it can be difficult to stop and consider the bigger picture, but this morning local manufacturers took a break from the daily grind to learn about broader financial trends and what they might mean for the local economy.
The first annual Economic Outlook and Update Breakfast, attended by around 50 people, was held from 7am to 9am at the Lebanon County Career and Technology Center.
The breakfast informed attendees about the current state of the economy with a focus on manufacturing.
It was planned by the Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corporation (EDC), a local non-profit that works to promote economic development.
“The main focus with what we do at the EDC is to bring manufacturing businesses together and talk about what’s happening now,” said Susan Eberly, President of the EDC.
Portfolio manager Kevin Caron was the morning’s guest speaker. Caron discussed both local and global economic trends over long and short periods of time in addition to providing insight to the causes behind these trends.
“The economy has come full circle from where it was last year,” said Caron. “Things have picked up a little bit but we’re not out of the woods yet.”
After Caron’s speech, he joined a panel that also included Eberly, Weaber Lumber Human Resources Director Jerry Succi, and Executive Director of Lebanon County Planning Julie Cheyney.
Succi has worked in personnel for around 40 years and discussed the ways he feels that employment has changed. He focused largely on Lebanon County’s low unemployment rate (3.3% compared to the state’s 3.8%) and how that impacts businesses.
“I have about 70 openings that I can’t fill,” says Succi. “I don’t need college-educated people to work for Weaber’s, I need labor. There’s only so many people available to work in Lebanon County.”
Cheyney spoke about laborer wages, youth workforce preparation through the CTC and Harrisburg Area Community College, and Lebanon County’s potential for development.
“Here in Lebanon County, manufacturing is a strong part of the community,” says Cheyney.
After the panelists spoke, the final 20 minutes of the breakfast were dedicated to questions and conversation between the audience and the panel.
“I think the support of the community is a big key in getting us where we need to go,” said Eberly. “Building upon the base we have now will be beneficial to companies, it will be beneficial to the community, so I’m just excited to keep it going.”